Videotron’s Parent Company Meeting with ‘Several Potential Partners’ to Mull Wireless Expansion

Quebecor, the parent company of Videotron, says it continues to plan whether it will expand its wireless network outside Quebec, according to CEO Pierre Dion, speaking to reporters at the company’s quarterly earnings call today.

Dion told analysts “Critical to our vision is an urgent need for fair and competitive, federally regulated roaming policy,” according to Reuters, specifically mentioning how the federal government needs to ensure the company can use rival networks affordably, regarding domestic roaming rates.

This morning, the CRTC announced the ban of exclusivity agreements in domestic roaming clauses, which were concluded to be detrimental to newer wireless entrants. Rogers was found to be guilty of charging wireless entrants higher

Dion went on to say “We will work at ensuring all conditions are right to minimize our risks,” while also noting “We continue to meet with several potential partners to assess their interest in partnering with us should we decide to consolidate the industry following positive regulatory developments,” according to the Winnipeg Free Press.

Videotron added 29,700 net wireless subscribers in the quarter, leading Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose to write in a research note “Videotron subscriber results were weaker than expected, and wireless in Quebec remains a challenge,” continuing with “We believe that it will be difficult for Quebecor shares to outperform until national wireless expansion uncertainty is lifted,” which won’t be expected until early 2015.

Back in May, Quebecor said its decision to expand wireless services outside Quebec would be made in a “few months” but it does not look like concrete plans are in place, yet. However, in June the company announced at the 2014 Canadian Telecom Summit it had plans to bring Canadians “new high quality, low-cost wireless,” and launched a website touting cheaper wireless services for the country.

Videotron holds seven 700Mhz licenses it spent $233 million for, in Alberta, BC and Ontario, giving the carrier the capabilities to launch outside Quebec. The carrier now has 551,300 mobile subscribers, while in comparison WIND Mobile has 735,000, spread across BC, Alberta and Ontario; incumbent carriers in Canada have at least 7.7 million subscribers each.

It would be interesting if Videotron joined forces with WIND Mobile and Mobilicity to form a new national carrier.

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